Monday, September 11, 2006

I know too much

Zorg likes to say that you can take me anywhere in Seattle and I'll run into someone I know.

Turns out, he's right. And, boy, is this embarrassing.

Andy Baio at the tech site Waxy.org blogged about a Seattle web developer named Jason Fortuny (who I do not know) who recently ran an experiment using the local Craig's List. Posing (er, literally) as a "submissive woman" Fortuny advertised under "Casual Encounters" for "an aggressive dom." His hidden agenda was to find out how many men would reply with the requested photos and contact information within 24 hours.

When the answers arrived...178 of them, 145 accompanied by photographic evidence... Fortuny then posted them on a web page [WARNING: this link leads to explicit content]. As Baio notes, many of the victims of Fortuny's hoax had provided names, addresses, phone numbers, email accounts (even work emails!), photos, and other details that made them immediately recognizable.

Baio's post goes on to explore the social, ethnical and legal issues that may be involved.

Now I've lived in Seattle for 22 years; I was single for more than a decade of that time. Quite frankly, I was, well, curious to see if I'd recognize anyone.

I did.

There was an email address on Fortuny's list that I recognized immediately. And, sure enough, when I clicked on it the photo that appeared (not explicit) matched up with the email address. When my surprise and dismay wore off, I read the full text of the reply and was quite amused to see that the fellow had adjusted his age downward...by about 12 years. Oh, vanity, thy name is...probably about to become public.

Hilarious. Depressing. Human.

2 comments:

  1. My first comment may have ended up in LaLa land...

    Anywho, just thought I'd share this artical I saw on KOMO's site.

    http://www.komotv.com/stories/45418.htm

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  2. Richard Jamieson has a good take on this at http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/jamieson/284734_robert12x.html.

    I think that two of his points are worth emphasizing. First, anyone sending personal information (including intimate information and photos) to a stranger is taking a risk and should not be too surprised if the recipient turns out to have another agenda, even an immoral one, or to be a crook.

    Second, what Fortuny did was immoral. It serves no useful purpose. All it does is to make the first point by means of embarassing and humiliating strangers. There are many better ways to caution people to be careful about giving personal information to strangers.

    While sending personal information to a stranger in response to an on-line sex ad may be as stupid as falling for the Nigerian banking scam, it doesn't justify the venal and vicious "outing" that Fortuny used.

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